After picking Angela up we set off on a three hour journey through the beautiful North of England, the gorgeously green Northumberland and continue further North into Scotland to act as English representatives in the 2020 Scottish National Championships. We crossed the border into the very scenic Scotland arriving in Perth at five minutes past four with just enough time to check in, unpack and walk to the arena for the 5pm briefing and the evenings session. After introductions and hellos, re acquainting ourselves with fellow Englishmen Nigel South, line judging for the tournament, and Chris Steeden, playing his part in the umpiring team. Next the briefest of briefings followed and the tournament started with mixed doubles. 16 uneventful matches later, the tournament finished for the day. The biggest issue of the evening had been the speed at which the shuttles were flying, very fast as the temperature was high and was forecast to remain high all weekend. Finally back to the hotel for late evening food, drink and merriment.
Early start, the following morning, 9am, and the longest day was under way. Again uneventful, certainly from our point of view, and the day finished as close to on time as possible, leaving everyone with a satisfied smile on their faces. Again the service judges’ day was a lot busier than normal due to the continuing high temperatures affecting the shuttle speed. Finishing on time means the opportunity to head back to hotel, change and a nice relaxed walk to one of the local Chinese restaurants where a booking had been made for everyone to fill their boots and bellies. After the seemingly mandatory late night/early morning technical meeting everyone retired to bed for a refreshing night’s sleep and ready to give it our best for the Sunday morning semi-finals followed by the finals later in the same day.
After breakfast, packing, checking out and driving to the arena we all gathered for the final days briefing. Reflecting the record temperatures for the time of year, diagonally opposite, fire doors were propped open in an attempt to lower the temperature in the hall and improve the overall performance of the shuttles, resulting in a brief respite but temperature rocketed once the doors were shut close to the start of play. Semis over and, midday meal behind us, the duties for the finals were released. The only questions to be answered was who was doing which finals and whether we were up or down. Only nine umpires for ten duties in the finals. The English contingent, comprising of Angela, and I, were chosen for one up and Angela was given the service judges job in the Men’s’ doubles final. Opening ceremony first and, as is usual in this part of the world, the pipe and drum band marched, in a militaristic fashion, into the hall, onto court one and entertained us with some good old Scottish tradition making the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Ten minutes later, court one now clear, the finals began. Angela, and I, had separate finals and were both on at the same time but on separate courts. Angela’s’ keen eye kept the Men’s’ doubles players in check in a hard fought match. Again the finals were not particularly epics but entertained the small but enthusiastic crowd.
Finally, after all the action was over, we said our goodbyes and headed back South to the beautifully green North East of England, with an open invitation to return again sometime in the future.